• Kyodo


At the request of the police, a store in Tokyo that sells secondhand manga and anime collectibles has dropped its plan to post a photo of a suspected shoplifter, the store’s owner, Mandarake Inc., said Wednesday.

After posting security camera footage of the alleged shoplifter with a digitally blurred face, Mandarake had threatened to publish an unaltered photo of the man unless the stolen item, a tin toy robot from the classic anime series “Tetsujin 28-go” with a price tag of ¥250,000, was returned by Tuesday.

The police urged Mandarake not to post the photo, citing concern that it could hinder its investigation, a source said. The item was taken from a showcase at one of the company’s stores in Nakano Ward on Aug. 4, according to Mandarake.

“Complying with law and cooperating with the police investigation, we had hoped for the voluntary return of the merchandise,” the company said Wednesday on its website, “but a crowd of reporters drawn to the shop Tuesday night made it impossible for the perpetrator to enter.”

Mandarake said a woman who appeared to be close to the shoplifter called and asked if it was all right to return the item by 8 p.m., the closing time of the Nakano outlet.

“We have sufficient evidence and we trust the power of the police,” the company’s statement said.

The shop opened at noon on Wednesday as usual. A company spokesperson said the shoplifter had not returned the merchandise yet.

Ethical questions had been raised over the company’s unusual threat.

“Mandarake is not a public authority, and for it to make the photo public is tantamount to social punishment by a private entity,” said Yukiko Miki, president of the nonprofit Access-Info Clearinghouse Japan, which aims to improve information disclosure by public bodies and the protection of private information.

“It would exceed the bounds of what is allowed for a business, and can’t be justified,” said Miki, adding the company made the right decision. “If the company had disclosed (the photo), it may have prompted other businesses to follow suit and use private information in their possession to punish (individuals).”

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